Manchester United: How They Can Win the Round of 16

Roberto Alvarez-GallosoChief Writer IJanuary 15, 2013

Manchester United: How They Can Win the Round of 16

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    Manchester United is facing Real Madrid in the Round of 16 in February 2013. Cristiano Ronaldo will return to his old stomping grounds at Old Trafford.

    Ronaldo and Real Madrid will face a United team that has Chicharito Hernandez and Robin van Persie on their roster.

    How can Manchester United win the Round of 16?

    The following B/R Reporters for Manchester United and the Premier League were invited to speculate with me: Max Towle, Jerry Koh and Dan Talintyre.

    We invite you to sit back, relax and enjoy the slideshow.

Max Towle

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    Tactically, my biggest fear for the Red Devils is their weakness defending the flanks.

    With Nemanja Vidic back in the side, United look instantly improved through the middle, but doubts still remain over Patrice Evra and Rafael out on the flanks.

    Though both will undoubtedly be important players going forward, they cannot afford to be caught out of position and gift Real large pockets of space behind them.

    From a more general standpoint, it would be easy to suggest that United go for broke at the Bernabeu and try to score as many away goals as possible, but they must be patient. Real have struggled most of this season against efficient counterattacking teams.

    Saying this, I am confident that United have enough quality to go toe-to-toe with the Spanish champs, but players like Michael Carrick and Antonio Valencia will have to be back to their best for this to happen.

Jerry Koh

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    What a tie we have here! And trust me, there is well and truly a chance of a United victory.

    Of course, Ronaldo will grab the headlines, with his return to his "original" home.

    Tactically, United MUST pay full attention to the creativity of Luka Modric and Mesut Ozil, even if the German hasn't been in great form recently.

    Also, they must stay defensively tight, obviously, and especially because we do have the attacking threat to slice apart Real. The combo of Rooney and Van Persie will count for a lot, as long as the defence stays solid against Ronaldo and company.

    Most of all, Man U must have self-belief and confidence, remembering that Real are not in great form themselves.

    It's a tie United can very much win, if they play their best.

Dan Talintyre

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    United’s key to progressing through the Round of 16 comes down to three main players and their ability to do what they’ve done well all season.

    The first is obvious: Robin van Persie.

    The Dutchman has been excellent for the Red Devils this year, and he must continue to be excellent against Madrid here. He must be a dominant force on the ground and in the air against the La Liga champions—particularly getting on the end of crosses from the United wingers.

    RVP is the heart and soul of United’s attack this season, and so it’s only natural that he is a crucial player for them in this fixture.

    The second is Tom Cleverley, who is finally establishing himself as a genuine force in central midfield.

    He must win the battle against Mesut Ozil and the Madrid midfielders, as well as hold down the Red Devils' formation. Cleverley’s ability to get the ball outside to the United’s wingers and through the middle to Shinji Kagawa will determine the outcome of this match—as will his ability to shut down Madrid through the middle of the field.

    Finally, David de Gea could be huge for United here.

    The 22-year-old has been inconsistent all season, but will start in goals for the Red Devils in one of the most important fixtures of his career so far. It might only be one save; it might only be one mistake on one cross; it could be something so simple that determines the outcome of this match.

    We saw last season in the Champions League that without Petr Cech, Chelsea would not have made it to the final at all—can De Gea play a similar role this season for United?

    Prediction: Manchester United win 4-2 (aggregate).

Roberto Alvarez-Galloso

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    While Manchester United will win the Round of 16, it cannot afford to underestimate Real Madrid.

    Mesut Ozil, Luka Modric and Cristiano Ronaldo will be the players from Real Madrid to watch, since they could take advantage of any weakness in United.

    The United team must remain strong in defense and unity. Robin van Persie, David Gea, Tom Cleverly and Wayne Rooney will all be important factors. Chicharito Hernandez may also make a positive contribution to this match.

    At the same time, Ronaldo may not have the homecoming at Old Trafford he wants. Real Madrid barely survived the first phase of the 2012/13 UEFA Champions League.

    Los Merengues defeated Ajax twice and Manchester City once. They lost one and tied one match against Borussia Dortmund. The second match between Manchester City and Real Madrid ended in a draw.

    Also, Real Madrid is suffering from internal problems that may interfere in the Round of 16.

    Real Madrid have not performed well in their La Liga matches. Jose Mourinho is receiving a lot of criticism for his decision to bench Iker Casillas.

    Sergio Ramos was banned five matches after insulting a referee. Real Madrid’s match against Osasuna was scoreless, with Kaka receiving a red card.

    Whether the internal problems of Real Madrid will affect the outcome remains to be seen. Maybe Real Madrid will make life difficult for United with an intense match but the end will be:

    Manchester United 5-4 Real Madrid

    My thanks to Max Towle, Jerry Koh, and Dan Talintyre for their participation in the slideshow. I would like to thank the B/R readers for their time in reading the slideshow.

    Best wishes to all of you until next time.